Katja Niethammer completed her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the Free University of Berlin in 2007. From 2004-2008 she worked as a researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, SWP), research group “Middle East and Africa.” Before this, Niethammer worked as Academic Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Center “Social and Cultural History of the Middle East” from 2001-2004, and as project manager for both the publishing group Georg von Holtzbrinck and the Berlin-based House of World Cultures (Haus der Kulturen der Welt). She studied Islamic Studies and Communication Studies at the Free University of Berlin and the University of Birzeit, Palestinian Autonomous Territories.After having completed her fellowship at CIRS, SFS-Qatar, Niethammer takes up a new position as interim Director of the Institute for Islamic Studies at Hamburg University, where she is also a professor specializing in Islamic Studies.Niethammer devoted time to the topic of political reform in the GCC and towards turning her Ph.D. dissertation, entitled “The King’s Democracy: Institutional Transformation, Conflicts of Identities, and Discourses on Democracy in Bahrain’s Reform Process,” into a book. Niethammer was awarded a publishing contract with Routledge, and her forthcoming book, Political Reform in Bahrain: Institutional Transformation, Identity Conflict and Democracy, is to be published in 2009. The book examines the reasons for the apparent failure of Bahrain’s initially ambitious reform project to achieve a substantial redistribution of political decision-making powers. The research traces the ways in which historical legacies of identity politics and past confessional conflicts continue to obstruct meaningful political progress.